I love Dante’s Inferno. I’m just so interested in the concept of the levels of hell and the trek to get through to the other side. I’ve also been a big fan of Jodi Picoult. When I found The Tenth Circle on sale at 2nd & Charles for $1.00, I just had to get it. I thought I was going to have a hard time reading a new book after my trip last month. I read books I had already read on that trip (totally against my resolution), which was nice. This was a good book to get back into the swing of things.
They’ve also made this book into a Hallmark movie, though I did not know that at the time I was reading it. I’d be interested to see it.
Cleverly, the book is broken down into ten chapters. The chapters are a bit long because of this, but there were plenty of breaks in the chapters to pause in the middle of one if you’re reading late at night. The story is about comic book writer/illustrator, Daniel Stone, his cheating wife, Laura, and their daughter, Trixie. I was initially grabbed by Daniel’s relationship with Trixie, the only child. Laura is a college professor, so Daniel was the one at home with Trixie. They have an incredible bond.
Each chapter is broken up with Daniel’s comic illustrations, each being a different circle of hell. He was inspired by his wife’s collegiate teachings, as her course is a coveted one, spending a full semester diving into the Inferno.
The Tenth Circle was very difficult to read at first. This has nothing to do with a reading level either. Trixie is a fourteen year old high school freshman, who was “lucky enough” to land a seventeen year old junior for a boyfriend. Jason was the all-star athlete that everyone in town knew and loved. The two breakup. In the middle of the novel, you get his point of why he did it…he didn’t love her the way she loved him and felt it wasn’t fair to her. The novel begins with Trixie going to a friend’s house for a party (with a surprisingly large amount of alcohol and sex for high school) to try and “win” Jason back. The party continues, things get out of hand, and the evening ends.
Trixie’s story picks up when her father finds her sobbing in the bathroom, claiming that Jason raped her. We’re there through the hospital examination and as she recounts what happens to the police. Trixie also cuts as well, to release the feelings of the rape and the breakup.
Since Jason is the “star athlete” in town and well known, no one believes that he’s done it. Teachers write an anonymous letter to the local newspaper about how Trixie (after returning to school) doesn’t seem to be affected, and she should be persecuted for lying.
The story evolves far past this, into the wife’s infidelity, Daniel’s dark past, and how it all intertwines. Reading those first few chapters about the rape and no one believing Trixie were definitely difficult to read. I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish the book. “Luckily”, the rape was not the full cornerstone of the book.
My Take on Jodi Picoult
It took me a while to get to this realization. I think I read 8-10 of her books before I realized how she writes. She finds a prevalent “issue” in the world, and writes a novel around it. The Tenth Circle dealt with rape and disbelief. Nineteen Minutes (one of my favorites) was about a school shooting. The Pact was about a boyfriend/girlfriend who had maid a suicide pact.
As awful as it is, I think it’s a genius way of writing. She’s taking issues that people may not be aware of or comfortable with and turning it into something you read in your leisure time. Not that it’s humanizing it, but it’s bringing these issues to a more accessible light.
I would recommend The Tenth Circle. Looking back on the novel itself, I feel like so much more happened than I’m able to put into a simple review. I barely touched on Laura’s infidelity and what it did to her relationship with Daniel. It was a fairly quick read, once I got past those first few chapters.
Note: The above are affiliate links, so I may receive a small commission from sales generated.